The LDS Daily WOOL© Archive - Humility

If we want to attain greatness, we must not forget this virtue of humility. Perhaps many of those who feel so self-righteous will find that to cultivate humility is a hard task; still it is necessary. We look forward to exaltation, but to obtain this we must go through the valley of humility. We must go down into it, and then ascend, and before us is a destiny so bright that we cannot conceive it.—Elder Anthon H. Lund, General Conference, April 1901

Choose to be humble. God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble. Alma said, "Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble" (Alma 32:16).—President Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference, April 1989

Why is it so difficult to accept things on faith? I think I can suggest an answer. It is because we are so conceited. Men of the world are in the world only because they adopt the philosophy of the world which is the philosophy of self sufficiency. It is not a humble philosophy--it is highly egotistical. It makes men themselves the arbiters of all things. They look to no higher source than themselves for the solution of all questions. Such a philosophy is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of Christ which is that of faith. When men adopt his philosophy they are humble--they acknowledge an intelligence far superior to their own and they seek guidance and wisdom from that source. When they adopt the philosophy of faith, they come out of the world, for the world, as a term in theology is not a place but a condition or state of mind and feeling. It requires courage to come out of the world and adopt the philosophy of faith. Sometimes it subjects one to ridicule and the contempt of friends which are harder for most men to endure than physical pain; but because a thing is hard to do or hard to believe is no assurance that it is not right.—Stephen L Richards, Conference Report, April 1935

The Lord called Joseph Smith and others from among the weak things of the world, because he and his associates were contrite and humble. The great and mighty ones in the nations the Lord could not use because of their pride and self-righteousness. The Prophet discoursing on this question once said: "There are a great many wise men and women, too, in our midst who are too wise to be taught; therefore they must die in their ignorance, and in the resurrection they will find their mistake. Many seal up the door of heaven by saying, So far God may reveal and I will believe." (Teachings, p. 309.) The Lord's ways are not man's ways, and he cannot choose those who in their own judgment are too wise to be taught. Therefore he chooses those who are willing to be taught and he makes them mighty even to the breaking down of the great and mighty. In his mercy and justice he gives all men the means of escape from the dominion of Satan and the bondage of sin. Therefore he sent the Gospel and his Priesthood before the great and dreadful day should come. "Surely," said Amos, "the Lord God will do nothing until he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." This restoration came that faith might increase, that the everlasting covenant, which had been broken might be established. When we think of our missionary system, we can see how the weak have gone forth among the strong ones and have prevailed. The mighty and strong ones have been broken down by the humble elders of the Church.—Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, Vol 2, p.26

Among the cardinal virtues of the gospel is the praiseworthy virtue of humility. To a certain king of Israel, whose power was waning before the "pride that goeth before a fall," the prophet Samuel said: "When thou wert little in thine own sight, the Lord blessed thee." I interpret humility as being strength. Humility expresses itself in lowly service, in volunteering for any service which will ameliorate the conditions, particularly the spiritual conditions of mankind. Humility does not mean to grovel, to be a sycophant. Humility is inward strength outwardly expressed in good works. Great souls attain to humility.—Charles A. Callis, General Conference, April 1942

Humility does not mean weakness. It does not mean timidity. It does not mean fear. A man can be humble and courageous.—Pres. Ezra Taft Benson, Mission President's Seminar, June 1979

How does one get humble? To me, one must constantly be reminded of his dependence. On whom dependent? On the Lord. How remind one's self? By real, constant, worshipful, grateful prayer.—Spencer W. Kimball, BYU Speeches, January 16, 1963

Special Edition
Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call 'humble' nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all. If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.—C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

"The more I see of life, brethren, the more I see why there is such a scriptural stress on submissiveness, meekness, and humility. The dangers flowing from an excess of ego are so constant and real. If we would but place an ego screen over all our thoughts, words, and actions before they hurt others or embarrass us! If we are steadily becoming more and more 'the man of Christ,' the mesh in that ego screen will become finer and finer, and fewer and fewer things will slip through to harm." - Neal A. Maxwell, "I Will Arise and Go to My Father," Ensign, Sept. 1993, 66

"I am often deeply moved by evidences of humility in the scriptures. Consider John the Baptist declaring of the Savior, 'He must increase, but I must decrease.' (John 3:30.) Think of Moroni pleading with us not to condemn him because of his imperfections, but to thank God that He made Moroni's imperfections manifest so that we can learn to be wiser than Moroni was. (See Morm. 9:31.) Nor should we forget the exclamation of Moses, who, after experiencing the greatness of God and His creations, acknowledged that 'for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.' (Moses 1:10.) Is not Moses' recognition of our complete dependence on God the beginning of true humility?

"I resonate to the English author John Ruskin's memorable statement that 'the first test of a truly great man is his humility.' He continued: 'I do not mean, by humility, doubt of his own power. ... [But really] great men ... have a curious ... feeling that ... greatness is not in them, but through them. ... And they see something Divine ... in every other man ... , and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful.' (The Works of John Ruskin, ed. E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, 39 vols. (1903-12), 5:331.)" - Marlin K. Jensen, "To Walk Humbly with Thy God," Ensign (CR), May 2001, p.9

"People ask me frequently what is my favorite verse of scripture. I have many and this is one of them, 'Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers' (D&C 112:10). What a promise to those who walk without arrogance, to those who walk without conceit, to those who walk without egotism, to those who walk humbly. 'Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.' What a solid and wonderful promise that is. (Japan Tokyo North, Japan Tokyo South, and Japan Sendai Missionary Meeting, May 18, 1996.)" - Gordon B. Hinckley, "Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley," p.265

"What are a broken heart and a contrite spirit? And why are they considered a sacrifice?

"As in all things, the Savior’s life offers us the perfect example: though Jesus of Nazareth was utterly without sin, He walked through life with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, as manifested by His submission to the will of the Father. 'For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me' (John 6:38). To His disciples He said, 'Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart' (Matthew 11:29). And when the time came to pay the ultimate sacrifice entailed in the Atonement, Christ shrank not to partake of the bitter cup but submitted completely to His Father’s will.

"The Savior’s perfect submission to the Eternal Father is the very essence of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Christ’s example teaches us that a broken heart is an eternal attribute of godliness. When our hearts are broken, we are completely open to the Spirit of God and recognize our dependence on Him for all that we have and all that we are. The sacrifice so entailed is a sacrifice of pride in all its forms. Like malleable clay in the hands of a skilled potter, the brokenhearted can be molded and shaped in the hands of the Master." - Bruce D. Porter, "A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit," General Conference, 6 October 2007

"Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught us that 'all progress in spiritual things is conditioned upon the prior attainment of humility.' (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (1966), 370.) Humility has been described as having the 'desire to submit to the Lord,' the 'desire to seek the Lord's will and glory,' and the 'desire to remove pride.' (Gospel Principles (1997), 4.) King Benjamin told his people that they should 'always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility' (Mosiah 4:11). The Lord counseled in the Doctrine and Covenants that 'inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time' (D&C 1:28)." - Keith Crockett, "Retaining a Remission of Sin," Ensign (CR), November 2000, p.77

"Humility is a virtue. One who possesses it is teachable and amenable to instruction. You should, therefore, be humble and 'hunger and thirst after righteousness' so that your abilities may be developed, your gifts cultivated, your skills polished, and your confidence increased. In the process, you will 'be filled with the Holy Ghost' and strengthened in your calling (3 Nephi 12:6)." - Carlos E. Asay, "In the Lord's Service: A Guide to Spiritual Development," p.1

"If they would only remember that the Lord commands His people to do nothing save He prepares a way whereby they can accomplish it, what hope and courage it would afford them in their labors! We ought to be a hopeful, prayerful, humble people. We ought to remember the Lord in all things. We should not forget Him when we are prospered. If we are blessed because of our humility and faithfulness, we ought not to imagine in our hearts that we have been able to accomplish some great thing independent of the Lord. On the contrary, the more the Lord blesses us, the more responsibility He places upon us, the more humble we ought to be." - Abraham O. Woodruff, "Conference Report," October 1901, First Day—Morning Session, p.13

“I question that one can approach nearer to the throne of grace and feel more vividly the influence of the Holy Spirit than in the meetings of the First Presidency and the Twelve in the temple of the Lord. This is particularly true when these brethren are engaged in calling upon our Father, expressing gratitude for his blessings and humbly and sincerely appealing for his help and guidance. The power of the priesthood is manifest; God's highest authority upon earth is there present. As the servants of the Lord, they humble themselves before him, testifying in prayer of his goodness to them, pleading for his inspiration to assist them in their labors, and beseeching his blessings upon the Church, the world, and his children generally.” - Joseph Anderson, “Prophets I Have Known,” p. 220

Another helpful perspective on humility can be obtained by examining its antithesis—pride. Just as humility leads to other virtues such as modesty, teachableness, and unpretentiousness, pride leads to many other vices. In Latter-day Saint theology, it was through pride that Satan became the adversary of all truth. It was the growth of this arrogance, termed hubris, that the wise men of ancient Greece portrayed as the sure road to destruction. - Marlin K. Jensen, "To Walk Humbly with Thy God," Ensign (CR), May 2001, p. 9

In the work of salvation, there is no room for comparison, criticism, or condemnation. It is not about age, experience, or public acclaim. This sacred work is about developing a broken heart, a contrite spirit, and a willingness to use our divine gifts and unique talents to do the Lord’s work in His way. It is having the humility to fall on our knees and say, “O my Father, … not as I will, but as thou wilt.” - Carol F. McConkie, “Here to Serve a Righteous Cause,” Ensign (CR) November 2015

To begin, it should come as no surprise that, in the estimation of some, humility ranks quite low on the scale of desirable character traits. Popular books have been written in recent years on integrity, common sense, civility, and a host of other virtues, but apparently there is little market for humility. Obviously, in these coarsening times when we are taught the art of negotiating by intimidation, and assertiveness has become a byword of the business world, those seeking to become humble will be a small and overlooked but critically important minority. - Marlin K. Jensen, "To Walk Humbly with Thy God", Ensign (CR), May 2001, p.9

In the days of my youth the Lord saw fit to bless me with an inferiority complex. I say "blessed" because in wrestling with this problem I learned the meaning of humility. I learned what it meant to get close to my Father in heaven through prayer on an almost continuous basis. I learned that in problems we find our challenges. In those challenges lie opportunities. If we can just identify those opportunities and capitalize on them, growth, progress, and success will result. I learned that strength comes from facing up to problems squarely and realistically, not from disregarding them or avoiding them. - William H. Bennett, "Conference Report," October 1970, Afternoon Meeting, p.147

Like all of the Church’s hymns, “Be Thou Humble” teaches pure and simple truths. It teaches us that if we humble ourselves, our prayers are answered; we enjoy peace of mind; we serve more effectively in our callings; and, if we continue to be faithful, we will ultimately return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. - Steven E. Snow, “Be Thou Humble,” Ensign (CR) May 2016

If we will humbly present ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to teach us, He will show us how to increase our access to His power. - Russell M. Nelson, “The Price of Priesthood Power,” Ensign (CR) May 2016

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